The madness of July

James Naughtie, 1951-

Book - 2014

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Subjects
Genres
Spy stories
Suspense fiction
Published
New York : Overlook Press 2014.
Language
English
Physical Description
392 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781468309614
1468309617
Main Author
James Naughtie, 1951- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Former MI6 operative Will Flemyng has successfully transitioned into a ministerial post in the Foreign Office. He enjoys the "game," but it's July, the historically "daft" season in British politics, and he is unsettled because the shrewdest of his colleagues sense that something disastrous is about to happen. The trouble begins when an American spook is found dead, stuffed into a cupboard in the House of Commons. Worse, he has Will's phone number in his pocket. Will must return to his old craft to protect himself, his party, and the sometimes-shaky "special relationship" with the Yanks. Although the novel is billed as a thriller, first-novelist Naughtie, a veteran journalist covering British politics, seems determined to obscure the nature of the threat Will faces. Naughtie's "tells," the important bits that spur action, often come via snatches of truncated dialogue that offer multiple possible meanings, and the tells may be buried in inside-baseball-style dialogue about arcane government practices. Even well-read Anglophiles will wonder just who is doing what to whom, but many will find the process of sorting it all out well worth the effort. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Unlike thrillers that focus on spycraft, this debut novel from a British political affairs journalist digs into the psychology of secrets hidden in the crevices between diplomacy and espionage. Will Flemyng, a cabinet minister in London, wants only to get out of town on a hot July day in 1976. Suddenly, he glimpses facets of several puzzles. A dead American is found in a closet in the Palace of Westminster, home to Britain's Houses of Parliament. The ambassadorship to Washington, DC, is open, with rabid competition among the candidates. Will and his two brothers, whose hearts are in the Scottish Highlands, learn that their dear mother was not a faithful wife. A rape accusation from two decades ago ripens to vengeance. The pressure builds because Will intuits that these threads are part of a single web. VERDICT Naughtie, whose love of Scotland shines in his lyrical and affectional portrait of the Highlands, writes insightfully about the plight of men at the highest reaches of power when passionate ambitions joust with common sense. Readers on this side of the pond may struggle a bit with elements familiar to a British audience, but perseverance will reward them with the satisfying resolution of a sophisticated conundrum. For mood and atmosphere, Alan Furst's novels come to mind and for tension and pace, think of the British TV series MI-5.—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA [Page 75]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Reporter Naughtie (The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency) makes his fiction debut with a nuanced, character-driven spy thriller set over six days in the late 1970s. When a clerk stumbles on a dead American in a House of Parliament cupboard, trouble ensues because on the body are the name and phone number of ex-spy Will Flemyng, now a minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. During a weekend trip to his boyhood home in Scotland, Will meets with his brother Abel Grauber, a U.S. political operative who has taken their mother's maiden name to distance his career from the careers of Will and their other brother, Mungo, who has unearthed a secret that could rip apart already strained family bonds. Copious amounts of dramatic dialogue speeds the story along. While the plot rambles at times, the slow discovery of who is trying to destroy Will—and why—is irresistible. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A former spy-turned-politician is drawn back into the shadows of his Cold War past by a bizarre death that starts to unravel some of the government's most sensitive secrets.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A former spy turned politician is drawn back into the shadows of his Cold War past by a bizarre death that starts to unravel some of the government's most sensitive secrets. A first novel by the author of The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency. 40,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Madness of July is set in the late 1970s, and takes place during six sweltering days in the month that gives the book its title. Will Flemyng was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines, but now he is in politics—and rising to the top. But when a bizarre death starts to unravel some of the most sensitive secrets of his government, Will is drawn back into the shadows of the Cold War and begins to dance with danger once more. Buffeted by political forces and the powerful women around him, and caught in interlocking mysteries he must disentangle—including a potentially lethal family secret—Flemyng faces his vulnerability and learns, through betrayal and tragedy, more truth about his world than he has ever known. Masterfully weaving together espionage, political intrigue, and family drama, James Naughtie has written a spy novel for the ages, worthy of comparison to the finest work of Charles McCarry and Robert Littell.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Set in the endgame of the Cold War, The Madness of July is an instant classic: an explosive, brilliantly written spy novel, by an author who has spent his life in the halls of power.The Madness of July is set in the late 1970s, and takes place during six sweltering days in the month that gives the book its title. Will Flemyng was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines, but now he is in politics—and rising to the top. But when a bizarre death starts to unravel some of the most sensitive secrets of his government, Will is drawn back into the shadows of the Cold War and begins to dance with danger once more.Buffeted by political forces and the powerful women around him, and caught in interlocking mysteries he must disentangle—including a potentially lethal family secret—Flemyng faces his vulnerability and learns, through betrayal and tragedy, more truth about his world than he has ever known.Masterfully weaving together espionage, political intrigue, and family drama, James Naughtie has written a spy novel for the ages, worthy of comparison to the finest work of Charles McCarry and Robert Littell.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

The Madness of July is set in the late 1970s, and takes place during six sweltering days in the month that gives the book its title. Will Flemyng was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines, but now he is in politics—and rising to the top. But when a bizarre death starts to unravel some of the most sensitive secrets of his government, Will is drawn back into the shadows of the Cold War and begins to dance with danger once more.Buffeted by political forces and the powerful women around him, and caught in interlocking mysteries he must disentangle—including a potentially lethal family secret—Flemyng faces his vulnerability and learns, through betrayal and tragedy, more truth about his world than he has ever known. Masterfully weaving together espionage, political intrigue, and family drama, James Naughtie has written a spy novel for the ages, worthy of comparison to the finest work of Charles McCarry and Robert Littell.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

Set in the endgame of the Cold War, The Madness of July is an instant classic: an explosive, brilliantly written spy novel, by an author who has spent his life in the halls of power.